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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

2. Nesjavísur (Nesv) - 15

Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).

Skj poems:
1. Víkingarvísur
2. Nesjavísur
3. Austrfararvísur
4. En drape om kong Olaf
5. Vestrfararvísur
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
8. Tryggvaflokkr
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
10. Knútsdrápa
11. Bersǫglisvísur
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
13. Lausavísur
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Nesjavísur (‘Vísur about Nesjar’) — Sigv NesvI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘ Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 555. <> (accessed 22 September 2021)

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Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 2. Nesjavísur, 1016 (AI, 228-32, BI, 217-20); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 14

SkP info: I, 562

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Sigv Nesv 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

 Kx Vara sigmána sveini | sverþa gnýs at fryia | gioðs ne goðrar hriþar | guɴreifom oleifi | þviat qvistingar costa | coma heʀ i stað verra | átto sin þar er sottuz | seɢir hvarir tveɢio   [KSH]  edit 
 papp18x Vara sigmána | sueyni, suerþa gnys at fryja, giodz ne godrar hriþar, Guɴreifom oleifi | þvit qvistingar costa, coma herʀ j stad verra. atto syn þar er sottust, seɢer | huarer tueɢio.   [KSH]  edit 
 Holm2 Varat sigmana sveini sverþa | gnys at fryia gioðs ne gøʀar hriðar gunnreifum oleifi þvi at kvistingar costo coma heʀ i | stað veʀa attv sinn þar er sottomz seɢir (hvorrir) hverarirtveɢio.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 R686x Uart Sigmana | Sueini, Suerda gnyss at frygia, godsne giorrar hirþar, gun | reifum Oleifi: þuiat quistungar kossu, komad herarr | i stad uerar, attu sin þar er sottust, sæggir huar⸌er⸍tueggiu.   [KSH]  edit 
 972x Varat sigmana sveini sverda gnys at frygia Giods ne gorar hridar gunnreifum Oleifi: þui at kuistingar kosto komat herr i stadverra atto sinn þar er sottomz seggir huarir tueggio.   [KSH]  edit 
 J1x Vara sigmana sueini sverþa gnýs at | frygia gioðs ne giorrar hriþar uinnreifum | oleifi þvi at qvistungar kostu koma herʀ | i stað verra attu sin þar ær sotuz segɢir hva | ʀatviɢiu   [KSH]  edit 
 J2x Vara sigmana Sveine sverþa gnys at frygia gioðs ne gioʀar hriþar imun reifum Oleife þvi at kvistungar kostu koma herr i stað veʀa attu sin þar er sottuz sekir hvaʀatveɢio   [KSH]  edit 
 325VI Uarat sigh | mana sveíní sverda gnyss ad fryia grids ne gó | drar hridar gunnreífum oleifi þviat kvistíngar | kosto koma heʀ i stad veʀa ᷎ áttv sinn þar er | sóttv seggír huarirtueggiu ᷎   [VEÞ]  edit 
 73ax Uarat sígmána Suæíní. | suerða gnys at fryia ∙ | griðs ne go᷎rrar hriðar. | gunnʀæifum olæifi: | þviat kuístíngar ko᷎stu | koma herr í stað verra . | áttu sínn þar er sóttu | seggir huarírtueɢgíu. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 78ax Varat sig mana Sveini | sverða gnys at fryia | griðs ne goðrar hriðar | gunnreifum Oleifi | þviat kvístingar kosto | koma herr i stað verra | attu sinn þar er sottu | seggir hvarirtveggiu. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 68 Vara sigmana sveini sverþa gnys at fryia gioðs ne | goðrar hriþar gvɴ reifom oleifi : þviat kvistingar kǫsto koma herʀ i staþ verʀa . atto síɴ þar er sottvz | seggir hvarirtveɢio.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 61 Vara svinn huglum sueini . sverða gnyrs at fryia . giods ne gilldrar | hriþar gunnreifum oleifi . þviat kuistingum kostu komat hef i | stað verra attu sin þar er sottuz seggir huarir tueggiv.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Holm4 Vara sigmana || sueíne suerða gnyss at fryía. Gioðs ne goð | rar hriðar ɢunnreifum oleífe. þviat kuistíngar | kosta koma herr i stað ueʀra attú ser þar er sottvz | seggír huarír tueɢgíu.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325V Varat sigmara sveini · sverða gnys at | fryia · gioðs ne gilldar hriðar · gvɴn | reifvm Oleifi · þviat kvistingar kosta · ko | ma heʀ istað veʀa · attv sva þar er | sottvz. seggir hvarir tveɢia   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325VII Vara sigmana suæine sverða gnys ár fryia ᷎ gioðs ne goðrar ʀiðar gunnræifum olæjfe  þviat quistingaʀ | kosta koma her istað værra ᷎ attu sva þar er sottuz sæggir hvarir tvæggiu ᷎   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Bb Varat sigmana sveíní sverda gnys | at fryia giódz negrarar hridar gvnleifvm | oleifí þvi at kvistíngar kosto koma her j stad verra | attv sínn þar er sottv. segger hvorrertveggio.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Flat Varat sigmara s | ueíne suerda gnys at erḍạ fryía giods ne godrar hridar gunnreí | fum oleífui þuiat kuistingar kosta kom at herr j stad verra attu suo | þar er sottuzst seggír huorir tuegíu ·   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Tóm Vara sígmara sueíní suerda gnys ath freyía ᷎ gío | ds ne godrar hridar ᷎ gunn ʀeífvm oleífí ᷎ þviat kvístíngar kosta ᷎ koma herr j stad verra ᷎ attv svo þar er | sottvzt segger huortueggív   [VEÞ]  edit 

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